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Should Singapore’s Members Of Parliament Still Hold Full-Time Occupations?

No, obviously not.

That was the first, immediate responses that came to my mind; at the same time, I suspect that many ordinary Singaporeans share the same sentiments as well. Balancing two (or more) jobs does not seem to be an ideal or beneficial arrangement: physically, juggling multiple tasks can be extremely exhausting; psychologically, it becomes near-impossible to priorities engagements, or to decide which assignments should be completed first.

Mr. Paul Chan (blog) explained his perspectives back in 2007. He postulates:

Assuming a [Member of Parliament] holds a managerial position[:] by the end of the day, wouldn’t she be really brain tired? … I mean, she could physically be there, but mentally she might have switched off already. By the time she meets her residents, her mind would have already been working for more than [nine] hours. She is giving the best slots of her mind to [her parent company], instead of her residents” (Link).

The question is not whether the day job would negatively affect the roles and responsibilities of a MP (because our politicians commonly counter these arguments by claiming that they have the innate capabilities to multi-task and multi-commit); rather, the obvious proposition is that our representatives would be able to contribute more – quantitatively and qualitatively – without these plethora of commitments.

The obvious proposition is that our representatives would be able to contribute more – quantitatively and qualitatively – without these plethora of commitments.

Four Reasons Why Being An MP Should Be A Full-Time Occupation

More time for their constituents. Besides their original occupations and MP considerations, a number of these politicians have to juggle a multitude of directorships and activities on various boards or committees. It seems common sense that concentration upon duties per se would empower the individual to dedicate much more time and effort (besides, the present allowance structure provides a household with more than enough financially to live comfortably in Singapore). Municipal concerns can be addressed more holistically, as MPs become more involved with on-the-ground initiatives.

Prevents the awkward conflict of interests between the public and private sectors. De-associating these dual roles would also eradicate a host of awkward worries: dealing with government regulation, managing classified or sensitive information, interacting with a subordinate or colleague who is a MP et cetera.

Greater availability for policy studies and recommendations. MPs also have important obligations as country legislators. Beyond their rhetorical exchanges and discourses during parliamentary sittings, I would want my constituency representative to be consistently gathering feedback about micro and macro socio-political, economic issues. It will be meaningful if our MPs were sincere about promoting platforms of conversation for policy studies and recommendations, for it would not only raise levels of interactivity, but also allow the general populace to be more informed and active.

For the benefit of their work-life balance. Above all, MPs must practise what they preach; with their schedules jam-packed with day-to-day functions, can they really spend valuable time with their families without unnecessary compromise? Residents should get the benefits of a full-time MP; simultaneously, their families should not be at the losing end too. Striking this equilibrium is of utmost significance in the long-term.

About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.


4 thoughts on “Should Singapore’s Members Of Parliament Still Hold Full-Time Occupations?

  1. Well of course there are benefits.

    Problem is that i’m pretty sure PAP has trouble attracting enough people anyways. Getting people to give up on their daily jobs/businesses might be too much of a barrier for these people to decide to join. I believe that there are plenty of “fillers” in PAP who do not hold any posts in cabinet, and some of these people are only willing to join if they do not forgo too much of their current lifestyle before politics.

    Posted by Anon | January 14, 2012, 1:32 am
    • I think the “lack of talent (or people)” is a very convenient proposition. Public service must be for the good of the people, and I doubt the abilities of MPs who juggle both their professions simultaneously; at the same time, it should not be altruistic (that’s why I suppose representatives are given allowances), but the commitment should be done with greater focus and concentration.

      Of course, we talking about a hypothetical scenario here; nevertheless, logically, one would presume that with more time and effort dedicated to constituents, as well as related work would yield greater tangible takeaways in general.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | January 14, 2012, 11:11 am
  2. There was an incoming link (http://singsupplies.com/showthread.php?108232-Did-you-notice-the-rows-and-rows-of-empty-seats-in-Parliament-last-week); there, an individual asserted the following:

    The guy is a complete idiot. The very foundation of the parliamentary system is that MPs are part of the community they represent. Being a backbench MP is not supposed to be a full time job. I now understand why Singapore is such a mess. It’s full of ill informed and downright ignorant people masquerading as intellectuals“.

    Disregarding the gross generalisation expressed in the comment, I just wanted to pen a quick point.

    Backbenchers in Parliament CAN hold full-time jobs, but the question here (and the gist of the commentary) is whether they SHOULD hold full-time jobs. First, a number of MPs have demonstrated the possibility of such an arrangement; second, some MPs sit on parliamentary committees, and should dedicate more time to those endeavours. Logically, spending more and time and effort in engaging the constituents would certainly yield desirable results.

    Jin Yao (a.k.a. ignoramus masquerading as intellectual)

    Posted by guanyinmiao | January 14, 2012, 2:53 pm
  3. Well, why do we then pay them so much money? So that they can have 2 jobs? And double salary?

    Posted by KANINGNA | January 16, 2012, 2:31 am

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